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Showtime and the Movie Channel have formed a pay-TV...

LOS ANGELES -- Showtime and the Movie Channel have formed a pay-TV venture after eight months of negotiations, including three Justice Department sessions to clear antitrust hurdles, it was reported today.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the joint venture places the nation's second and third largest pay-TV services under one management, which has already said it will continue to operate both 24-hour channels.

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The move should reduce costs and improve the buying power of Showtime-the Movie Channel Inc., as the new venture will be known, but Home Box Office will still dominate the industry.

HBO, a Time Inc. subsidiary, and a 'sister' service called Cinemax together have 15 million subscribers,while Showtime and the Movie Channel will have a combined 7 million subscribers.

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